Christine Lüders, head of Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS), said the government-sponsored survey results presented Monday show that stronger laws are necessary to fight age discrimination, although it is technically already illegal under laws such as the General Equal Treatment Act, which game into force in 2006.
“People are still discriminated against because they are too young or too old," Lüders said, calling for an amendment to the German constitution, known as the Basic Law, to explicitly outlaw age discrimination. The Basic Law's third article currently explicitly bans discrimination based on sex, parentage, race, language, homeland, origin, religious or political opinions and disability.
Lüders pointed to the constitutions of neighbouring countries like Switzerland, Finland and Sweden – all of which make age discrimination explicitly illegal – as models Germany should follow.
The poll of 1,502 Germans showed that discrimination may be a bigger problem in the former eastern Germany than the west, where 27 percent and 19 percent, respectively, believe they've been discriminated against because of their age.
About 29 percent of people between 18 and 29 believe they've faced age discrimination, while only only 18 of those over 60 feel that way. Eighteen percent of people between 30 and 34 and 22 percent of 45 to 59-year-olds feel they've been discriminated against because of their age.
The survey found broad support for treating all Germans equally when it comes to employment no matter how old they are.
When asked, for instance, whether an employer should be able to reject a younger person for a job simply because of their age, 78 percent of those surveyed said that would be inappropriate.